Department of Medicine in Partnership with Cayuga Medical Center: City Meets Rural in Training of Medical Students and Residents

July 12, 2011

A partnership between the Department of Medicine (DOM) and Cayuga Medical Center (CMC) in Ithaca, NY, is providing a training opportunity for Weill Cornell medical students and DOM residents to pursue electives and conduct primary care rotations in a rural setting far removed from New York City. Part of an initiative launched by Chairman Dr. Andrew Schafer, and Dr. Adam Law, President of the Medical Staff at CMC, the program, in its third year, has received rave reviews from students and residents. The story was recently covered in The Ithaca Journal.

The partnership program gives WCMC medical students the opportunity to conduct a six-week primary care clerkship in Ithaca in which they shadow local physicians. The program places the students in several environments in and around the Ithaca community – they are based at Cayuga Medical Center, but perform 2 weeks of service at Cornell Universitys Gannet Health Services (the university health center) and also follow doctors at other Ithaca clinics, and occasionally, go on home visits. WCMC students are afforded clinical experience that would be atypical at Manhattan hospitals such as managing mononucleosis on a university campus, or conducting family medicine in rural villages and farms.

"We have family medicine here...and we have outstanding family practitioners," says Dr. Law. "It gives us an opportunity to see things we wouldn't see otherwise," third-year medical student David Slottje told the Ithaca Journal. Dr. Law emphasizes that Ithaca exposes WCMC students to a enhanced variety of medical practice styles expanding their Manhattan experience. Dr. Schafer described to the Journal that the Ithaca clerkships have been valuable for WCMC students seeking to choose a career path and that in some cases the experiences have been "transformative."

From a beginning group of three students in September 2009, the partnership program now sends WCMC medical students to CMC year-round. The program's success has both centers hoping to deepen the partnership. Both Drs. Schafer and Law described to the Journal ways in which the partnership between the Cayuga Medical Center and Weill Cornell can continue to grow into the future.

Dr. Adam Law (left) and Dr. Andrew Schafer discuss the DOM-CMC partnership

And further advances...

Another recent advance involves a coalition of leaders in the Department of Medicine at WCMC, the Cayuga Medical Center and Cornell University (Ithaca) who have recently submitted a major grant application to HRSA to obtain funding for an Administrative Unit that includes infrastructure support to further strengthen this program. The goal is to create an innovative and prototypical primary care training program with a focus on rural health. Dr. Lia Logio, Director of the department's residency training program, is the Principal Investigator of this HRSA grant application.

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